Building Your Board Profile

Getting started on your board journey includes building a board profile. So, how does one go about it?  It starts with asking yourself what your value proposition is, and what unique skills and experience you bring to a board.

(Learn more about How to prepare yourself for Board roles with Women Get On Board’s Getting Board-ready workshops!)

What is your unique value proposition?

Boards are made up of a diversity of thought with members bringing different culture, experience, gender, ethnicity, age and geographic representation. So, what is it that you can bring to an already diverse board? What is your unique board value proposition?

Think of it like an “elevator pitch” where you have 10 seconds to tell someone what you bring to a board. In my case, I say that I have entrepreneurial and financial expertise with high growth and transformational companies in the technology, retail and consumer sectors.

What are you passionate about?

You need to pursue organizations that deal with what you are interested in or passionate about. For myself, I am passionate about dance. When I was asked to join Canada’s National Ballet School’s (NBS) Board, they asked me why was I interested in NBS, and I replied, “I always wanted to be a ballet dancer.”

Think about companies outside of your industry experience. It can be very rewarding to leverage your skills in a new industry with a whole new network and community to engage with. After spending over 20 years in the technology industry, I was asked to join a retail board, which made me excited because I love to shop. But, I am also a Canadian consumer so I understood that I could bring that perspective to the Board.

Get involved in your Alma Mater.  Begin by serving on committees or councils to reconnect with your university and go back on campus. I started getting involved with Brock University by serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Goodman School of Business, then on the President’s Advisory Council and was then asked to join the Board of Trustees.

Research the companies or industries that you are interested in.

Review their values, mission and strategy.  Do they align with your own skills, experiences and values? Will you add value?

I always evaluate Board opportunities in three ways:

  1. How can I add value?
  2. Do I have a personal statement of the attributes I can bring to the board?
  3. How can I use my network to make meaningful connections to grow the business?

What is your personal statement?

A personal statement is like your own personal campaign. Recently, I was referred to a board opportunity and in the interview process I was asked to write about why I would make a difference and what makes me unique. So, I wrote my personal statement on what value I would bring to the board; why I was passionate about the business; and how I would bring a diversity of thought from my 30 years of diverse business experience with an open, creative and strategic way of thinking.

How are you connected to the company?

Joining a board is about fit and style, and the Board wants to make sure that your style will fit in. To help them decide, think about your network and how you might be connected to any one of the Board members. This is what I call “network mapping.” Use your network to map how you might be connected to members of the Board — the more connections you have to the Board the more comfort they can get on how you will fit in. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions!

I shared my most recent board interview process with someone in my network. And without even asking, they made two great introductions for me to help advance my connection to the company.  Some people are natural connectors. If you would like some tips, please my “Are you a connector?” blog post.

Building your Board profile is an ongoing process that takes time and takes focus. Good luck!

If you are interested in Getting Board-ready, please sign up for Women Get On Board workshops:

The purpose of the Getting Board-ready workshop series is to help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. These half-day workshops will be facilitated by Corporate Directors, governance and search experts who will provide practical experience to empower women with tools to enhance confidence and courage to lead and serve on boards.


How to Prepare Yourself for Board Roles

What is the best way to prepare yourself for Board roles?

Executives who want to make the transition to corporate director often need advice on how best to set up and prepare for their board journey. The first step is to understand your role on a board, which I outlined in my previous post here.

Once you have an understanding of your role, begin your Board journey by leading and serving on Not-for-Profit Boards. Getting Involved in Your Community by serving on a Not-for-Profit is a great way to give back and to meet other community business leaders.

Lastly, there are different types of Not-for-Profit boards, so you must do your due diligence to make sure the Not-for-Profit Board is the right fit for you.

Is the Not-For-Profit the Right Fit For You?

1) Are you passionate about the cause/organization, how can you make a difference?

2) Is it a fund-raising board? Are you expected to fund-raise and/or donate your own funds to the organization?

3) What committee on the Board would you bring the most value/contributions to?

4) What is the term of the Board position, and is it renewable?

5) What type of Board orientation is available to new board members and ongoing education?

6) What is the NPO’s financial situation, are they a going-concern?

7) What type of government/private donor funding do they rely on?

8) What type of governance structure do they have? Make sure to ask about the by-laws, committee structures, corporate calendar of meetings and work plans for the committees.

9) Have you met with the CEO or Executive Director of the organization, and do you understand what their challenges/opportunities are and the vision/values of the organization?

10) Have you met with other current Board members and past Board members?

Asking yourself these top 10 questions before joining a Not-for-Profit Board will help you determine if it is the right fit for you.

Enjoy your Board journey!

If you are interested in Getting Board-ready, please sign up for Women Get On Board workshops:

The purpose of the Getting Board-ready workshop series is to help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. These half-day workshops will be facilitated by Corporate Directors, governance and search experts who will provide practical experience to empower women with tools to enhance confidence and courage to lead and serve on boards.



Understanding Your Role on a Board

There are two roles you must play on a Board, one is Oversight and the other is Value-add.  I will highlight both roles with an extract from a chapter that I co-authored with Donna Price in 2008’s Entrepreneurial Effect by James Bowen and Glenn Cheriton, titled Corporate Governance-Directors of Emerging Companies.

(To promote understanding of a director’s role on a board and how to prepare for board opportunities, and as a co-founder of Women Get On Board, I am co-facilitating a series of Getting Board-ready workshops from October to December 2015. Learn more about them here:  Hope to see you there!)

The Oversight role on a Board

The primary responsibility of directors is to oversee the management of the business and affairs of a corporation. This is referred to as an oversight duty. As a general matter, a business corporation’s objective in conducting business is to create and increase shareholder value. To this end, in addition to performing an oversight duty, boards also perform a value-added role. Decision-making generally involves developing corporate policy and strategic goals with management and taking actions on specific matters related to those policies and goals. Other matters, such as changes in the charter documents, election of officers, (and other matters referred to above), require board action (and sometimes shareholder action) as a matter of law.

All directors must understand that decision-making and oversight responsibilities come from prescribed standards of duty and conduct.

The corporate statutes impose two principal duties on directors: A fiduciary duty and a duty of care. As fiduciaries, directors have an obligation to act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the corporation.

As a director, you must exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances. This is known as the duty of care. In discharging the duty of care, a director must be concerned about process at least as much as, and perhaps more than, the actual decision taken. The duty of care underscores the need to implement corporate governance procedures to guide the board in decision-making. This means that pre-meeting, meeting and post-meeting practices should be oriented to providing the right information within a timeframe that will permit diligent discussion and decision. If a board makes a decision that may be contentious from a business perspective, provided the board gave sufficient thought and consideration to the decisions and were otherwise diligent, it will not normally be criticized. This is sometimes referred to as the “business judgment rule” and generally speaking, courts will not substitute court judgment for the business judgment of the board.

The Value-Add Role on a Board

In the formative years of an emerging company, the director’s role is more often weighted to a value-add role and as the company matures the role becomes more weighted to an oversight role.

Keeping in mind that the overall role of the board is to maximize shareholder value, directors also provide a level of insight, business acumen and personal network that extends beyond the company’s management team. These are some of the components that contribute to a director’s value-added performance.

The collective board should have sufficient industry knowledge and domain expertise (such as technical, operational or governance) in order to add value to board decisions and strategic priorities. Paramount to their duties, directors must select and oversee the CEO and monitor company performance. A value-added board should provide insight, advice and support to the CEO and management on key decisions and issues confronting the emerging company. Caution: “Nose in, Fingers out!” Boards must balance being too engaged in the day-to-day operations, with performing an oversight role.

Please join us for the Getting Board-ready Workshop Series from Women Get On Board 

The purpose of the Getting Board-ready workshop series is to help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. These half-day workshops will be facilitated by Corporate Directors, governance and search experts who will provide practical experience to empower women with tools to enhance confidence and courage to lead and serve on boards.

Are You Board-ready?

Getting yourself board-ready is a journey where you need to be realistic in your skills, experience and value you bring to a board. You also need to be mindful that it is a very competitive marketplace. There is an over-supply of qualified corporate directors for a limited supply of available corporate board seats.

So, how do you start your journey to get board-ready so you can compete for a corporate board seat?  The first step is to ask yourself these 10 questions to determine your readiness for leading and serving on a corporate board.

10 Board-Ready Questions

1. Do you have a minimum of 10 to 15 years of experience in a senior executive role in the public, private, crown or not‐for‐profit sectors?

2. Are you prepared to commit at least 200 to 300 hours per year to a corporate board role?

3. Do you have the support of your own Board of Directors and/or senior executives to serve on a board?

4. Do you have a formal governance certification or designation (C. Dir or ICD.D) from the Directors College or the Institute of Corporate Directors?

5. Have you ever served on a board, not‐for‐profit or for profit?

6. Are you a team player that understands the dynamics of boards is one of the most critical components of good governance?

7. Do you fully understand the role, responsibility and liability of a corporate director?

8. Do you understand the difference between a board of directors role versus a management role?

9. Do you have financial acumen—can you read and understand financial statements?

10. Do you have experience in critical areas in our changing world such as Risk Management, International Markets, M&A, Cyber Security, Digital Media, Big Data, etc.?

If you have determined that you need to begin your journey to get board-ready please consider registering for our Women Get On Board Getting Board-ready workshop series.

The purpose of the Getting Board-ready workshop series is to help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. These half-day workshops will be facilitated by corporate directors, governance experts and search experts. They will share their experiences to empower women to become more confident in order to lead and serve on boards.

Getting Board-Ready Workshop Links:

Understanding your role on a Board –

How to prepare yourself for Board roles –

How to get yourself on a Board –

All Three Workshops:

Stayed tuned for more Women Get On Board blogs on getting board-ready!

Give Generously, Receive Graciously

I grew up in a family of giving; it has always been a part of who I am and what I do. To that end I strive to live by this famous quote:  “We make a Living by what we get, but we make a Life by what we give.” (To my dear sons, I hope you give generously and receive graciously!)

When reading Adam M. Grant’s book, Give and Take, on the topic of giving, I was inspired to explore the social style of giving; how when one gives generously they get far more than what they give.  According to Adam M. Grant there are three styles of social interaction, “giving, taking and matching.” He contends that all of these styles can be applied both professionally and personally.

Get involved in your community – Do well by doing good!

Giving can be a challenge when you feel that you don’t have the time, but there are many ways to give back that don’t involve a lot of time.  There are volunteer programs that require just one day a year and others that request a few sporadic hours over months.

When you give back to your community you will open yourself up to new people and new opportunities. By volunteering for what you truly care about you will network with community leaders, and that will lead you to be rewarded personally and professionally in ways you never imagined!

Receiving can also be a challenge. It can be difficult to open up and accept help from others. It can also be difficult to receive praise for the good deeds that we do.

Learning how to give and receive is the key to be rewarded by the act of giving back.  My secret to giving and receiving is to have a clear set of personal rules.  I encourage everyone to develop their own set of rules so you can give generously and receive graciously!

My own rules of engagement for giving and receiving:

Give Generously

1. Give with purpose and intent.

2. Give to what matters to you.

3. Be mindful that you can’t give to everyone.

4. Give from your heart and be genuine.

5. Give without expectation.

6. Give credit to others; life is bigger than oneself.

7. Protect your availability.

Receive Graciously

1. Accept praise for your generosity with grace and joy.

2. Do not undermine or second guess your generosity.

3. Be grateful for the opportunity.

4. Others will be inspired by your grace.

5. Be open to accept help from others.

6. Be respectful and timely in your receiving.

7. Be authentic.


Are You a Connector?

Connecting people is an art. Connecting opens up a world of potential opportunity for yourself and others. All of us are connected in some way, but many of us don’t use our networks.

Are you a connector? I ask this question as there are a few people that I know who are great connectors and I wonder what makes them unique.

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point there are three types of people, Mavens, Connectors and Salespeople:

Connectors make change happen through people. They galvanize people. They’re natural hubs. That’s just the way they’re oriented to the world. These are people who, every time you ask a question, start flipping a Rolodex in the back of their mind, saying, “Who do I know who knows this? Who do I know who has done this? Who do I know that I need to connect you with?” They love connecting you with people, because they’re all about the people.”

When the topic of networking comes up in conversations a lot of people say, “Oh, I don’t like to network.” But in reality we network each and every day and we don’t realize that we’re doing it.  We are constantly connecting without consciously ‘networking’. Do you use these connections? To take it one step further, do you connect people you meet with other people you know? If you do this, it can be quite powerful.

I have been told through my friends and colleagues that I am a connector. Having never thought of myself this way, I lean in and ask “why”?  They tell me it’s because I always love meeting new people, learning new ideas and that I genuinely want to help others. I’ve always aspired to be like the great connectors that I know and these attributes are something we can all aspire to. We can all learn the art of connecting.

Three tips on being a connector:

1. Be authentic. Approach connecting with sincerity and come from a place in your heart of well-being.

2. Be timely and follow through. Always do what you say you are going to do.

3. Be mindful of your network. Your network is like your reputation, you need to be protective and strategic in who you know and how you tap into their network. It is a two way relationship, so GIVE more than you take.

The Power of Sponsoring

I am often asked what the difference is between mentoring and sponsoring. There seems to be a good deal of confusion between the two since both are centered on asking people to help you advance in your career.  So what is the difference between mentoring and sponsoring?

Mentoring is about advising and sponsoring is about acting.

In a New York Times op-ed article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, she explains the difference between sponsors and mentors this way:

Mentors act as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested; they expect very little in return. Sponsors, in contrast, are much more vested in their protégés, offering guidance and critical feedback because they believe in them.”

Sylvia has also written a book on the topic titled Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor  that I highly recommend for anyone who is looking to get to the next level in their career.

Sponsorship over my career

I have benefited from sponsorship over my career. And I am grateful for all my wonderful sponsors who have believed in me, helped me to make great connections and who provided me with guidance and critical feedback.

My sponsors have been women and men that I had developed relationships with over years throughout my career. I was able to demonstrate my skills and experience to them and gain their trust by working alongside of them while serving on boards, consulting, as a Chief Financial Officer and by getting involved in my community.

When you are looking for a sponsor remember that it is a two way relationship based on mutual respect and trust.  You both need to be invested. Your sponsor is putting their name on the line by championing you, so you need to follow through with their advice and work hard to keep your sponsor’s good reputation intact.

Sponsoring is about giving back by paying it forward for others. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sponsor or take action as a sponsor for someone else.

I am putting “asking for a sponsor” into practice with Women Get On Board. We have formed an Advisory Board with experience and connections in governance, law, investment banking, accounting, financial services, corporate finance, M&A, professional development and media.

I would like to extend a big thank you to our inaugural Advisory Board for helping us shape the strategic direction of Women Get On Board! Your sponsoring will help us advance our mandate to connect and promote women to corporate boards.

The Power of Mentoring

The concept of mentoring is a 20th century term. Thirty years ago mentoring on a business level didn’t even exist. It wasn’t mentioned or promoted as a way to network or learn from people who had the positions that you aspired to.  So what did we did we do before mentoring came in vogue in this highly competitive market place? We chose and emulated people who inspired us to help us reach our goals. My first mentor was father. He inspired my business career and in the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to be a mentor and a mentee.

Look for a mentor outside of your organization. Choose someone who inspires you.

I have been fortunate over my professional career to have great mentors. Some I would reach out to on a very informal basis like meeting over a lunch, where I would seek advice and guidance on career choices and specific topics.  On a formal basis, I was sponsored to be a Mentee of the Women On Board, a Catalyst Initiative Mentoring Program. My sponsor was Gigi Dawe, Principal, Research, Guidance & Support at CPA Canada. (I would like to extend a big thanks to her for believing in me!)

When asked what I wanted in my Mentor, I answered that I wanted an experienced woman Corporate Director who had a stellar career as an Executive that I could learn from.  I knew that I could learn the most from another successful business woman who had been there and done that. And so my mentoring program began in May 2012 with Krystyna Hoeg. We would meet over lunch and had a mutual trust, understanding and respect for one another. I am grateful for those wonderful learning lunches that I had with Krys over the next two years. She helped me refine my board matrix skills and my value proposition to a Board and encouraged me to step up in a leadership role as Chair of the Sears Audit Committee. Thanks Krys!

Become a mentor, you will learn a lot from your mentee.

I have been asked over the years to mentor other women.  I am happy to inspire others in achieving their best and find joy in encouraging them to make a difference. I just recently received this email from my mentee that I mentored in the WXNWisdom Top 100 Mentoring Program:

“Also wanted to give you an update that I moved roles within TD about 4 months ago and got a promotion to Associate Vice President Specialized Collections – your guidance and support was a big part of getting me there so wanted to send you a thank you.”

Patricia Trump, AVP Specialized Collection, TD Canada Trust

On Sunday March 1st, I was asked to speak at Brock’s Goodman School of Business’ Brock Badgers A-team Experience as a Distinguished Guest to prospective students and their parents to showcase what Brock’s business graduates have gone on to accomplish. When I’m asked what inspired me to go into business, I always say that I wanted to a businessman just like my father. I can tell that this resonates with the young women business students; they come up to me time and time again and thank me for inspiring them to become a successful woman business leader.

I had Brock Goodman School of Business woman student follow-up with me on LinkedIn after the event:

“It was a pleasure meeting you at the Goodman A-team event today, albeit briefly (over a gift exchange of wine that we hope you enjoy)! I admire your passion for helping women advance their careers and break through the glass ceiling. Hope to keep in touch!”

 Olga Coltova, Marketing Support Specialist at Hitachi Solutions Canada

So as you journey in your professional career, take time to find a mentor and equally give back as a mentor.  The experience is very rewarding.

I would like to thank all my mentors over the years.  You have been instrumental in shaping me into who I am today, especially my father who inspired me at young age to go into business.  I would also like to thank those that believed in me to mentor them. The best is yet come!

Agents of Change

On February 11th, I participated as a panellist for the Strategic Capability Network’s ‘New OSC Board Diversity Policy: A Strategic Opportunity for Board-Building’ event ( My topic: How can we be agents of change in making diversity a strategic opportunity? With the new OSC rules surrounding board diversity there will be many changes ahead in how corporate boards recruit their new board members. As a corporate director, I believe that this is an opportunity to build stronger boards.

Leadership Development

A crucial step in making board diversity a strategic opportunity is for HR executives to identify leaders and engage in leadership development. This can be done through supporting executives to complete governance educational programs such as the ICD Director’s Education Program or the Directors College. Board development programs help executives learn how to be more effective in working with their boards. The opportunity for executives to serve on a board helps them round out their skills by having a Board frame of reference, which also helps them in their presentations to the Board.

HR executives should take the time to get to know their current Board members —if they serve on other Boards, perhaps there may be potential board opportunities for members of their executive team.

Should HR executives play a role in helping their Governance Committee decide on board composition issues?

HR executives can help the Board develop their Board skills matrix. They can work with the Chair of the Governance Committee or the Corporate Secretary to help recruit potential Board members from inside and outside of the company. They can keep an evergreen list of potential Board members, lead the conversation on age diversity and help put age limit policy in place.

I am an Agent of Change.

As a sitting Corporate Director, I have been approached quite often by other women asking me how I got on Boards. So over time, I would speak about it on panels, or have follow-up telephone calls, coffee, or lunch meetings. Then, last May I engaged a digital branding firm to work with me on my online branding, and I started developing my thought leadership around women on boards and governance. Shortly after that, my call to action came and I joined forces with my co-founder, Susan Varty, to launch Women Get On Board—a member based forum to connect and promote women to corporate boards through roundtable events and promoting on-line their expertise. Last week we had our first roundtable event, Be Visible, speak up and Stand out, with guest speaker Beverly Topping. If you are interested in learning more about Women Get On Board, you can go to, or email us at connect (at) womengetonboard (dot) ca.

So let’s all step up today and collectively be Agents of Change. We can make a difference in making diversity a strategic opportunity for board-building.

My Goal…

When asked why I wanted to go into business, my response was because, “I wanted to be a businessman just like my father.” My father’s successful career was my inspiration and drove me to become the successful businesswoman that I am.

My journey as a professional “in the field” began as a nineteen-year-old co-op accounting student articling with a mid-size accounting firm.  I’ll never forget the one day, as I was working, a senior partner flat out told me that I would never become a Chartered Accountant.  As disappointing as that was to hear, I did not let that stop me in my tracks.  In fact with my own determination and the support of my family to always to your best, I forged ahead! I firmly believed that I could do whatever I put my mind to with hard work.

Hard work,  determination and self promotion has led my career from senior financial management roles, to a venture capital partnership, to my own management consulting firm, and now to corporate director roles. I have been honoured with such awards and distinctions as being nominated a Diversity 50 candidate in 2014, made an Honorary Member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Chapter of Brock University in 2014, received a WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women award in the Corporate Director category in 2012, and was named a Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant in 2009. I also launched the Deborah E. Rosati Co-op Entrepreneurship Award at Brock University in 2014 to help nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs that will foster innovation and create jobs.

My path to becoming that businessman like my father has taught me that you can achieve your goals. However, my experience as a businesswoman taught me that as women we generally do not take time out to promote ourselves as we should. That’s why my goal is to help and inspire women to get on corporate boards through mentorship and education.

Achieving my goal has led me to co-found Women Get on Board, a member-based forum that connects and promotes women to corporate boards by hosting round-table events and showcasing their expertise online.  Men are also welcome to join as supporting partners because we recognize that we must all work towards diversity and inclusion on corporate boards. If you are interested in Women Get On Board membership, please join our mailing list: